Ethnic diversity


It seems that I Dream Of Jeannie unlike other shows of the era seemed to showcase minority actors..was this progressiveness on the part of the producers, actors and directors? were they trying to make a statement?...lots of speaking parts and background scenes..if anyone has any intelligent feedback or background info I'd appreciate it thanks

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[deleted]

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I think NBC was just ahead of the curve in terms of opening television to minority actors. "Jeannie"'s network also gave us Roscoe Lee Browne in "That Was The Week That Was", along with beautiful funny girls Chelsea Brown and Teresa Graves in "Rowan & Martin's Laugh*In". Bill Cosby hit pay dirt twice with "I Spy" and "The Bill Cosby Show" during that era, and the Diahann Carroll broke new ground with her role in the fondly remembered "Julia", all on NBC.

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Don't forget that NBC also aired the original Star Trek, with it's diverse cast and famous first interracial kiss.


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Perhaps to some extent we have lost sight of the fact that (LSD) can be very, very helpful in our society if used properly.
Sen. Robert Kennedy, 1966

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Of course. Don't know how I forgot that one, especially given Whoopi's comment about Uhura so many years later.

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Loved Uhura (Nichelle) But Whoopi is a flake....

You Have a Hard Lip, Herbert..

Better Living Thru Chemistry

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You loved Uhura, and so did Gene “the cheater” Roddenberry.

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NBC actually was ahead of the curve trying to include people of all shades and stations. A very good network.

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<<<NBC actually was ahead of the curve trying to include people of all shades and stations. A very good network.

well, during that time, NBC was promoting "color tv"

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I was going to say that this show comes off as racist---it makes up stuff off the top of its head about the middle east.

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I was going to say that this show comes off as racist---it makes up stuff off the top of its head about the middle east.
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Gee. you should have said it. I know it would make you feel better to say it, as the grrrl you are. Everything is racist and sexist; why, if it wasn't, things wouldn't be so gratifying for you..
..sigh

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Bewitched also had one episode focused on a minority group when they had a black co worker of Darrin's and his wife and child appeared and Tabitha & the black girl wanted to be sisters and they end up both being spotted. It was truly a unique episode that talked about tolerance and was actually written by a 5th grade class and used for the show. OTher than that episode I dont recall ever seeing a black actor on that show.

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Isabelle Sanford ("Weezy") was on an episode of "Bewitched".

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Forgive me, but I only remember Sammy Davis Jr guesting on the show. What other black people were on IDOJ. Except maybe one or two in the background at a party or a meeting.

Not only was there Isabel Sanford, but also the story where Tabitha had a friend who was black, also her parents. Clara dated an Asian man, and Sam and Darrin were a mixed marriage. There was also a famous baseball player who had a cameo It was Hank Aaron or I believe, but I could be wrong.

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As much as I love IDoJ and enjoy Bewitched, neither could be considered a role model of ethnic diversity.

Looking at it now, that Christmas episode with Tabitha's best friend and her parents -- the father who is supposed to be a fellow employee at McMahon & Tate -- comes off as patronising and cringe-inducing. Had the show's writers at least led up to this episode by actually mentioning these people prior to this episode and not disposing of them as one-shot characters, it might have stood the test of time, like Greg Morris' appearance on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" does.

Overall, I think IDoJ outranks Bewitched in terms of at least showing that people of colour actually exist in the everyday, work-a-day world.

BTW, it wasn't Hank Aaron, but Willie Mays who did that cameo.

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I'm confused. If Sammy Davis and one or two other black men in the background at Tony's work were shown. Who never even hhad speaking parts. How is that out ranking Bewitched in showing people of colr? At least on Bewitched they were allowed to talk.

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Well, let's see, McMahon & Tate is a Madison Avenue advertising agency; most of the business restaurant/bar meetings would supposedly be occurring in Manhattan; and the Stephens live somewhere in Westchester (Morning Glory Circle) or Duchess Counties (Paterson, NY).

My stepfather was an account executive in a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the 1960s/1970s; he was also black. Surely McMahon & Tate would have had some people of colour working there; even if we only saw them briefly as mail clerks or secretaries. Again, with the restaurant/bar scenes, there's no faces of colour dining out, or IIRC even working as waitstaff. I don't think we even see a PoC as a passerby in a street scene: this was 1960s Manhattan after all.

As much as I love Isabel Sanford, do you really want to count her role as cheeky maid (and likely former _slave_) "Aunt Jenny" in the post-Civil War Deep South as a marker for Bewitched's enlightened portrayal of PoC? That ep aired in 1968 during the fifth season, and "Sisters at Heart" in 1970. "The Greatest Entertainer in the World" aired in 1967, during IDoJ's second season.

As I said above, neither series could be considered as standard-bearers for showing ethnic diversity, but at least IDoJ acknowledged PoC's existence in the military and at NASA, even if their roles were largely "under fives".

This is not intended to be a game of "Count the PoC" brinkmanship, where we all get out our DVDs and tally-up the numbers. As the perennial number three network of that time, ABC would make some tough (and in hindsight _wrong_) decisions. Their market share was considerably smaller than CBS and NBC; many of their affiliates were on UHF channels (vs VHF for CBS and NBC); they couldn't afford to offend advertisers or have an affiliate drop what was one of their most successful shows. So, many of their series from that time don't show much in the way of ethnic diversity. Of the "Big Three", it was NBC that was willing to be a bit more daring in their programming.

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You're not making any sense to me. The point of the post is who showed more people of color and that was Bewitched Hands down. Isabel Sanford played a maid not a slave, because she mentioned getting a raise. Slaves didn't get rasies. Also Sam went back in time. That's the way it was back then.

Willie Mayes, and the black couple with the little girl whose father worked for Mcman and Tate. I'm sure if I paid more attention, I would see more black actors, because Elizabeth Montgomery was very big on civil rights. That's why there were so many shows about predjudice.

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If you read the post, you'd note that I didn't say Aunt Jenny was a slave, but that it was likely she'd _been_ a slave. "Samantha Goes South" was set in 1868 -- three years after the end of the Civil War.

Willie Mays had a cameo; the speaking he did was as an "under five" (a person who has under five lines of dialogue). The episode he was in had nothing to do with him; he was simply a guest at Endora's party -- and IIRC the only witch/warlock of colour we ever meet. And except for Michael Ansara's Blue Djinn, we don't meet any genies of colour either.

Elizabeth Montgomery, herself, may have been an outspoken advocate of Civil Rights, but the episodes you're referencing could be considered, at best, allegorical. The prejudices behind the witches vs mortal conflict used as a stand-in for real-life racial issues of the time, without the thorny problem of actually showing or discussing "race".

You keep referencing, "Sisters at Heart", as some sort of bright spot in Bewitched's canon. It's not. The little girl (Tabitha's best friend), her father (who works for McMahon & Tate) and her mother (the parents being friends of Darrin and Samantha) are one-shot characters; they exist for that episode only, and are quickly disposed of. Even allowing for Columbia's notorious cheapness in not wanting to pay for more actors than needed, the writers could have thrown in a mention of Lisa, Keith and Dorothy leading up to that episode and following it.

I think the problem with our discussion is that we're referencing this post from two different points of view. You're counting eps wherein a PoC has segments of dialogue and some active participation in the actual plot, which leaves you with "Samantha Goes South" and "Sisters at Heart" for Bewitched -- two episodes out of 252 -- and "The Greatest Entertainer in the World" for IDoJ -- one episode out of 139. I'm coming at it from the perspective of "are PoC better represented in Bewitched or IDoJ, based on how often we see them on screen"?

I think we'll just have to agree to disagree.

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Ok, I think we can settle this with your answer to this question. How many black actors had a speaking part of any kind on Jeannie?

Bewitched had Isable sanford, Willie Mays and the couple and their daughter. that makes Five. How many did Jeannie have?

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Off the top of my head, Michael Ansara (Syrian-American actor) in at least three episodes; Sammy Davis, Jr. and three of his muscians; African-American character actor Vince Howard in two episodes as two different characters (and to save you time, Vince also appeared in one episode of Bewitched as a museum guard); an African-American boy (Geroge Spell) to whom Jeannie gives a trumpet in exchange for a piano; Chinese spies Richard Loo, James Hong and Linda Ho.

And congrats to you for turning this into a game of "Count the PoC".

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Just for the recored. When it is said "People of color" it does not refer to anyone, but people that are black. So, everyone else does not count. Bewitched had many Jewish, asian, and other actors that were on the show.

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Even using your definition, that leaves IDoJ with six (seven if you count Vince Howard as having two different roles) out of 139 episodes (4.3% of eps), vs Bewitched with six (I added in Vince) out of 252 episodes (2.4% of eps).

These are hardly impressive numbers for either show.

BTW, you might want to consider revising your definition of "person of colour"; it's about fifty years out-of-date.

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Huh, I never noticed.

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I was reading a book on American television some years ago:

President John F. Kennedy made a statement that challenged network television to highlight more ethnic diversity. He said something to the affect that if the networks didn't positively showcase the talent, intelligence, contributions, and humanity of non caucasians on a regular basis, he would have the FCC heavily scrutinize them come license renewal time.

President Nixon basically reversed this "edict", when he addressed the networks when he took office.

For me, much of the dignity of minorities' portrayal on American TV especially backslid in the era of "realistic" sitcoms.

"Dyn-o-mite!"

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[deleted]

What is the title of that book? I'd like to check it out

Boston and Philly love to slander us, but they don't have as many fans as us

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I'll have to see if I still have the book. We have hundreds and may have resold it. I hadn't read it since the early 1990s. If I can find the book or an online reference to it, I'll post it here today or tomorrow.

NBC was the first American tv network to take Kennedy's threat on their ethical "standards" seriously.

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I know this is an old thread, but I just thought of something regarding "ethnic diversity" - I LOVE Barbara Eden, but don't you think a blond genie sounds a bit strange considering she is supposed to be originally from Iran or Iraq? In the episodes where she is made up to be her own sister (a ripoff of the Cousin Serena character from Bewitched) she looks a bit more Middle Eastern/Arabic/Persian?

Nobody could have played Jeannie but Barbara Eden, however!!

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The Monkees also had a little ethnic diversity too. I also recall a 60's show I saw in reruns named "Please Don't Eat The Daisies" and "Gidget"and "That Girl" also had a few minority actors on it. Mainly they were extras.

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In the episodes where she is made up to be her own sister (a ripoff of the Cousin Serena character from Bewitched) she looks a bit more Middle Eastern/Arabic/Persian?


I disagree that Jeannie's sister was a ripoff from Bewitched. Bewitched was NOT the first show to do the twin thing. Actually, the first show to do it was The Patty Duke Show, which started in 1963, a year BEFORE Bewitched. Sidney Sheldon (creator of Jeannie) and William Asher (creator of Bewitched) both were credited as creators of the show.

So both Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie both copied/ripped off The Patty Duke Show with the twin thing. The Patty Duke Show featured twin cousins. However, Bewitched really copied because Samantha also had a twin cousin. And one twin cousin is more demure, just like Samantha is more demure than Serena. And Samantha and her twin cousin were close, just like the twin cousins on the Patty Duke show were also close.

At least Jeannie did something different. She had a twin sister......NOT a cousin. Plus, Jeannie and her sister were not close. In fact, they were rivals.

Sidney Sheldon got the idea for the twin thing from his earlier show The Patty Duke Show. Except this time, he went for twin sisters instead of twin cousins. Actually, twin sisters make a lot more sense than twin cousins.

btw -- Actually, I think Serena was a rip-off of Jeannie's character. Serena was mischievious, fun, and a free spirit just like Jeannie.

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No there was not much ethnic diversity. The erroneous "diversity is strength" mantra started to gain steam in the 90's.

While we were not ethnically diverse when this show was filmed as we are now, we were able to send a man to the moon and back, able to build the Verrazano Bridge and Empire State Building in NY and the Hoover Dam in a relatively short time. It took 12 years to build a World Trade Center and during the negotiations there were some who--using the "diversity" argument--wanted a display in the museum about why the terrorists hated us.

I do not know any nation that thinks diversity is a strength: Canada (French vs English), France and England (native born vs Muslims) are a few examples.

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A brave post. Glad I read to the end of the thread.

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While we were not ethnically diverse when this show was filmed as we are now, we were able to send a man to the moon and back, able to build the Verrazano Bridge and Empire State Building in NY and the Hoover Dam in a relatively short time.


Both the Verrazano Bridge and the Apollo 11 mission were carried out during the height of the Civil Rights movement. The Empire State Building and Hoover Dam were built during the Great Depression, some 30 years before. Are you Blutarsky from Animal House?

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Emojis=💩 Emoticons=

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While we were not ethnically diverse when this show was filmed as we are now, we were able to send a man to the moon and back, able to build the Verrazano Bridge and Empire State Building in NY and the Hoover Dam in a relatively short time.


a: I don't see how the empire state building and hoover dam have to do with ethnic diversity.

b: empire state building was built in 1929 and completed in 1931. for a building of that size from that time, that is amazing.

c: hoover dam... 1931 to 1936. but that was all the way out west in Arizona/Nevada so I don't see how these things are connected.

Verrazano bridge... 1959 - 1964.

man on the moon... 1971. and still don't see how these things tie into this since all three men who were shot up there were white Americans.

and if you really want to get technical at the 'ethnically diversity' the Brooklyn bridge was finished by a woman [the original creator's daughter in law after the father in law died and the son [who took over from him] contracted caisson disease].

in 1883 that was unheard of and most workers frowned upon working for a woman. I find that more interesting and more inspiring than the main topic of this conversation.



and let's be honest.... back then, many people [as ignorant as this sound this was the time back then] were uncomfortable with minorities being held to equal or higher standard than them.

and I hardly call now being ethnically diverse. we are not submerged into the uniqueness of these cultures, usually or even given a taste. we see the stereotypes that make these cultures sub par to the white rich conservative Americans. and not in a 'look how sad, let's help them' way in a honey boo boo way.

Reading the paper can really be depressing. Mr. Dithers fired Dagwood again.

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Are you Blutarsky from Animal House?


I would respond to your insult but I don't like to talk down to someone although it's hard not to since you're intellectually lying on the floor

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well I agree with him and I blew your theory out of the water.



Reading the paper can really be depressing. Mr. Dithers fired Dagwood again.

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